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25 May, 2010 22:23

US, Russia reach deal for Iran sanctions

The United States has reached an agreement with Russia to place new sanctions on Iran, which may lift restrictions on the sale of Russian arms to the country.

The US needs Russia to agree to sanctions against Iran in order to push them though UN Security Council and has entered an agreement lifting US sanctions against the Russian military complex and has agreed not to ban the sale of the Russian S-300 air defense system to Iran.

Russia has a need to consolidate its influence in the former Soviet periphery,” said Reva Bhalla, director of analysis at the Global intelligence firm STRATFOR.

According to Bhalla, the ability for Russia to sell the S-300 to Iran is a huge bargaining chip. This allows Russia to maintain a strategic advantage in the region and balance US influence in Central Asia.

The S-300 missile air defense system could be used by Iran to defend nuclear facilities from possible air strikes. The US remains concerned about the sale of the S-300, partially because Iran could use the system to defend against a possible Israeli attack, and will likely try to convince Russia not to go through with the sale.

At the same time we’re seeing the United States follow through with its own threat of delivering a battery of Patriot missiles to Poland, which is extremely concerning to the Russians as well. The question is whether Russia is going to give up some of its leverage in the form of the S-300 sale as sort of a tit-for-tat with the United States, or if it can reach some sort of understanding with the United States, which in effect would leave Iran in a very vulnerable position,” said Bhalla.

The US has few good options at this point and the arms agreement may be trying to show Iran that it may not always have a friend in Russia.

The military option is not very feasibly. The sanctions option is largely meaningless. The draft circulating the UN Security Council is really just more of a symbolic effort for the United States to show that it have more international support, particularly from the Russians and Chinese,” said Bhalla.